The Rods – Let Them Eat Metal (High Roller Records)Wednesday, 15th December 2021
In the early development of hard rock and heavy metal, bands had to get product out on an annual basis to fuel the marketplace for bigger tours, possible radio airplay, and develop a global following. For upstate New York act The Rods, Let Them Eat Metal would be their fifth studio album in five years – originally coming out on Combat in 1984 stateside while seeing distribution overseas through Music for Nations and Roadrunner among others. Gaining another re-release for those who may have missed this effort the first (or second) time, it’s a prime example of the passion and catchy vibes that 80’s US metal offered to the scene – beyond the risqué female-oriented cover piece that surely drew attention to those unaware of the group before these days.=
Armed with content relating to professing the virtues of being into rock/metal as a lifestyle beyond the love / sex and struggle to fit in with parental expectations and norms, the power trio format allows all three musicians to hold their own instrumentally while sharpening their creative blade. Between the robust vocal melodies courtesy of guitarist David ‘Rock’ Feinstein and the steady rhythm section work of bassist Garry Bordonaro and drummer Carl Canedy, these nine cuts scream for the cause, as the street-level work and effort appeased the loyal headbangers. From the infectious mid-tempo stomp and thunderous power chords for the title track through the speedier, raucous closer “She’s Such a Bitch”, The Rods were in their prime as players, honing their craft into shorter yet effective arrangements – adding the right blitzkrieg fills or smoldering lead breaks whenever possible. Environmental safety and air quality make “Nuclear Skies” poignant for those times – the three-part vocal harmony during the chorus AOR-brilliance while Carl Canedy lays into his kit as a master groove machine. The drive, attack, and fever of cuts like “Bad Blood” and “Got the Fire Burnin’” combined the love of older rock and early heavy metal – aspects of Judas Priest, Molly Hatchet, and Ted Nugent given the right twist to ensure an ideal alcohol-fueled party atmosphere.
Much like other acts of that time like Riot, Raven, and Anvil, The Rods hung onto that almost next level headliner but not quite ascension due to label politics and management decisions. Nonetheless, this is a great historical metal record to treasure if you love learning about the roots of the genre.